NORMAL — Daniel Biss, candidate for governor in the Illinois Democratic primary, called on young people to work with him “to change what's possible” during a get-out-the-vote rally Tuesday on the Illinois State University quad.
“We're going to win an election with people, not dollars. We're going to win an election with ideas,” said the state representative from Evanston. “We're going to win an election for ordinary people.”
In an obvious reference to fellow Democrat J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur and heir, Biss said, “They want us to believe that money wins elections so if we want to beat (incumbent Gov.) Bruce Rauner, we have no choice but to pick the billionaire even if that might not be what we prefer.”
But Biss asked, if money does win elections, why isn't Pritzker pulling away in the polls?
Biss, who supports universal health care, free college tuition and more taxes on the financial sector, said people are “willing to fight for things that used to be pie in the sky in the past.”
About 150 people showed up for the rally over the noon hour.
The turnout excited Biss, who noted, “It was cold and literally snowing. … That kind of energy will turn into passion and volunteers.”
The primary election is March 20.
“We have … 14 days to transform the state of Illinois, 14 days to fight for the kind of Democratic Party we believe in,” Biss told the crowd.
Emphasizing the importance of every vote, Biss cited an example close to those in attendance, the narrow victory of Normal Mayor Chris Koos in last year's election. Koos won re-election by 11 votes.
Biss said that should inspire people to knock on extra doors.
At the conclusion of the rally, a large group of people headed to the Bone Student Center, where early voting was taking place. Others stayed to talk one-on-one or take selfies with Biss, who attended a meet-and-greet at the Bistro in downtown Bloomington later in the day.
Steve Jepson, a senior in English from Wheaton, said he had already cast his vote for Biss.
Calling Biss a middle-class guy with middle-class values, Jepson said, “Biss represents my class of people more so than J.B. Pritzker.”
He noted that Biss had distanced himself from House Speaker Mike Madigan and “recognizes that we need Medicare for everyone and that our failed drug policies don't work.”
Senior Michael Smith of Blue Island, a journalism major, said he thinks one reason Biss has gathered support from young voters is a spillover from the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, who also attracted young voters.
Smith said more young people are “getting involved with the change-makers.”